The mantra he repeated at the height of this pandemic is back on the lips of Central Connecticut Health District Director Charles Brown, with the recent ascent of covid-19 cases attributed to the new Delta variant.
“Remember the three W’s,” Brown told the Herald at its regular meeting Tuesday night. “Wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.”
Elected officials in one of the CCHD’s four member towns asked the chief regional health official to address the recent uptick in new cases, especially since Newington is the only town in this area with more than five positive cases on average per day per 100,000 residents. That puts it in the “yellow” category of risk, a designation shared by five other towns in the state. Two towns are in the red (high infection rate, high risk) one is in the orange (moderate risk) and all other towns fall under gray or low risk.
As of the most recent update Thursday, Newington has had 2,780 cases and 102 deaths. Berlin, which also falls under the CCHD’s jurisdiction, has had 1,604 total cases and 32 deaths. Currently there are 103 people hospitalized with covid-19 in CT, including 30 in Hartford County. The state’s testing positivity rate reached 2.96% Thursday with 391 new cases reported among 13,223 tests.
“In general the case numbers have been going up significantly over the past two to three weeks,” Brown said. “It’s primarily due to a surge in the delta variant which originated in India and is about twice as contagious as the original strain of covid-19.”
About 76% current diagnoses in CT are sequenced to this variant. While the majority of those who have fallen ill are unvaccinated, there have been breakthrough cases where vaccinated people get sick.
“Those who have been vaccinated generally have mild symptoms,” Brown said. “The vaccine does a good job doing what it was designed to do, to keep you from being hospitalized and succumbing from the disease as a whole.”
Brown is now urging those who have yet to receive the vaccine to do so as soon as possible.
“I would just urge everyone at this point – definitely if you have not been vaccinated please go and get that shot,” he said. “Dial 211 and they will let you know the nearest location to receive a vaccine.”
After the coronavirus had a tragic toll on older people during its spread through nursing homes last year, the disease is now reaching children and young adults who have not been vaccinated.
“The younger cohorts are now bearing the brunt of this,” Brown said.
In terms of the new variant, health officials are still learning how it responds and can only estimate the impact it will have on our communities. The possibility of people who are vaccinated needing booster shots this fall and winter is still uncertain, according to Brown.
“The virus itself will evolve along with us,” he said. “It is very likely we get to a point where we can manage this disease if we have a high enough vaccination rate. Then it will be a seasonal epidemic like influenza is. The challenge we have is we’re dealing with a living organism. It does a very god job of adapting. This virus is incredibly opportunistic. Seasonal vaccinations may be something we take up but we’re not even there yet.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.